The debate over whether judges should be addressed with the deferential British-era “My Lord” or “Your Honour” was briefly resurrected in the Gujarat high court Thursday and settled by a woman Chief Justice with a verdict in favour of “sir” as a “gender-neutral” alternative.
The genesis of the issue was a lawyer repeatedly addressing the division bench of Chief Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Sandip Bhatt as “Your Ladyship” during a hearing.
Chief Justice Gokani said, “Many a times, in the General Clauses Act, we say he includes she; sometimes she includes he also.”
At this, a senior advocate said “Her Ladyship” was surely not the correct way to address a woman judge. “Technically, it is ‘My lady’,” he said.
Chief Justice Gokani then said she believed the traditional appellations for judges were colonial relics and “too feudalistic”.
In 2006, the Bar Council of India passed a resolution saying, “Use of colonial relics like ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your lordship’ should be discouraged.”